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LITTLE ROCK — A group has submitted a proposed referendum aimed at overturning a new Arkansas law allowing optometrists to perform a broader range of eye surgeries.

Safe Surgery Arkansas on Tuesday submitted a proposal that would put the new law before voters next year if it submits about 53,493 valid signatures from registered voters by July 23. If the group submits enough valid signatures, the law would be suspended until the referendum goes before voters.

[RELATED: Complete Democrat-Gazette coverage of the Arkansas Legislature]

The law being challenged will allow optometrists to administer injections around the eye, remove bumps and lesions from eyelids and perform certain types of laser surgery now performed by ophthalmologists. It was approved by the Legislature and signed into law earlier this year.


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Archived Comments

  • RBBrittain
    June 11, 2019 at 6:55 p.m.

    Absurd. There are worse bills from the 2019 legislature that deserve the referendum far more than this minor scope-of-practice skirmish between optometrists (specialized degrees in eye care) and ophthalmologists (MDs specializing in eye care). Thankfully, this petition has the same daunting task as any other referendum petition: getting sufficient signatures within 90 days after sine die adjournment to put it before voters in November 2020. The 2019 legislature did ease one obstacle by making pre-registration of petitions easier (notice to the State Board of Election Commissioners instead of having the Attorney General preapprove the ballot title); but that would be more than offset by proposed constitutional changes they put on the 2020 ballot, especially tripling the number of counties with a required minimum of one-half the statewide threshold from 15 to 45. (IMO the 15-county rule is already constitutionally suspect under the Federal "one person, one vote" doctrine by valuing voters in lower-population counties over others; going to 45 counties only makes the constitutional violation even more blatant.)

  • NoUserName
    June 11, 2019 at 8:12 p.m.

    but will optometrists be required to have admitting privileges at a local hospital?